Seventh-grader Noah Cohen and his best friend, Dash, eat, sleep, and breathe comedy, so it’s no surprise they choose to research Jewish comedians for their mitzvah project at Hebrew school, even if it means partnering with Noah’s female nemesis, Noa Cohen.
As long as Noah and Dash can spend their weekends watching movies and making up comedy sketches with Dash’s dad, the “coolest guy on the planet,” life is good. Until it isn’t. Dash’s father’s unexpected death is devastating for Noah, not only because he misses Gil, but because it drives a wedge between the two best friends as Dash struggles to cope. What’s worse is that Dash has found a new confidant seemingly overnight, leaving Noah reeling and desperate to win back his best friend. Despite the support of his two moms, his sister, and his rabbi, Noah leaps and lurches awkwardly through his first real experience with death. While it is uncomfortable and sometimes even painful to read, Noah’s struggle also feels incredibly authentic. And fortunately for readers, there’s just enough humor to help lighten the mood when things get dark. While the primary characters all appear to be white, it is beyond refreshing to see a story that is so thoroughly Jewish without a hint of persecution. And while bookshelves are filled with stories about children losing a family member, this novel offers something new by focusing on the unexpected loss of someone beloved but not related. An author’s note and list of resources follow the story.
An authentically awkward exploration of grief particularly well-suited for preteen boys. (Fiction. 8-12)